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Has the junket become an endangered species? Not if Harry Reid has anything to do with it! The U.S. Senate Majority Leader (D-NV) has unveiled the Protecting Resort Cities from Discrimination Act to keep destinations unfairly tagged by the recession from those sweet, sweet tourist dollars.
Reid is a travel busybody; he was criticized earlier this year for making sure the stimulus plan involved an allocation for a high-speed train from Las Vegas to Anaheim, but this time he means business.
The act, co-sponsored by Florida senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, would prevent federal employees from writing off certain destinations in their convention plans. Which certain destinations, do you think? Probably places like Florida and Vegas. Rahm Emanuel even rolled up his shirtsleeves and got into the fray on this one, declaring in a letter that government agencies should strive for "reasonable" costs, rather than avoiding expenditures by how they might look.
If this bill not only goes through but is acted upon, Las Vegas will once again make out like those pirates on the Amazon this week. Good show, Harry Reid! Your suitcase full of cash is in the Presidential Suite at the MGM Grand.
· Sen. Reid offering government travel bill [UPI]
· How Does The President's Economic Recovery Plan Affect Travel? [Jaunted]
· Pirates Pop Up In The Amazon To Rob Luxury River Cruise [Jaunted]
· What Recession coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo of the Las Vegas Airport: Bjørn Giesenbauer]
We're heading into the final month of summer here and you know what that means--celebs will be descending en masse in St. Tropez on the French Riviera for their annual pilgrimage of partying, yachting, topless sunbathing, and more partying.
But it looks like Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue cover girl, Bar Refaeli is getting a head start. The beauty was seen partying it up with Brazilian polo player and entrepreneur Ricardo Mansur, leading us to believe that her on-off boyfriend, Leonardo DiCaprio, is once again "off." This Ricardo dude might also have it out for Leo as he reportedly once dated Leo's ex, Gisele Bundchen, as well.
Typical cruises are fun, but they're just way too safe these days. Unless you happen to be pitched overboard, you will probably come home safe, sound and fatter. Take a motorcycle cruise, though, and you could add a swell layer of road rash to your sunburn! Plus, your kids will think you're bad to the bone (note: actual results may vary).
Some cities look at this economic downturn and see the collapse of their tourism industries; Shanghai sees dollar and yen signs. China's biggest city is aiming to take over the luxury business market while it's on sale, even as next year's World Expo looms large.
Just as its fellow countrymen in Beijing did a general tidy in advance of last year's Olympics, Shanghai hotels and outfitters are cranking up their luxury offerings even in a time when there may not be anyone to enjoy them. The centenarian Peace Hotel is getting a major facelift, and a brand new all-glass cruise terminal opened in November to pull in shore excursions from far and wide.
Do you have money to throw around yet? Because we've been in this recession for a fair bit, and hopefully people have been more frugal, luxury tour providers like Abercrombie & Kent are betting on people wanting to spend whatever savings they've scrounged. Because of this, you can now take advantage of slashed prices on trips like a 17-day excursion into India, which is now only $9,625. They're right that selling that same trip right now for its original price of $13,000 is a tough push, but $9.625 is too close to five figures for us yet.
Closer to home, the city of Myrtle Beach has already declared that the recession is over because a poll is up in showing "interest" in it as a vacation destination, even though bookings are down. And after a spa industry group reported that spa trips were up 18 percent last year, spas everywhere promoted themselves as a staycation with an edge. Keep in mind that some of these trips easily hit the four figures, and we're still not convinced that spa vacations or A+K tours are the best decision to make, even at the end of a recession.
· Abercrombie & Kent offers ‘Christmas in July’ sale to spur holiday travel [LA Times]
· Myrtle Beach area travel desires rising [The Sun News]
· U.S. spas seem recession-proof, says industry group [Reuters]
[Image: Abercrombie & Kent]
Hot Yachts / Boating / Yacht / Yacht Charter / What Recession / → All Tags
When we aren't out jetting around on LCCs, busing to Baltimore for $1 or hopping a high-speed train, we like to fantasize about that other form of transportation: the almighty ship. So to allay our own curiosity as much as yours, we're spotlighting yachts with either notorious owners or histories...or both. Know of a bootylicious boat? Let us know.
Stinking up the hotel scene right now is the news that Jeff Soffer, the billionaire behind The Fontainebleau in Miami, has sought bankruptcy protection for his Las Vegas Fontainebleau venture. As a result, his lavish lifestyle is under the microscope and items of gritty luxury come out to play. For example, his 257' yacht, the Mad Summer, launched only last year.
This week we were treated to the riveting story of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who used state funds to meet his lady-love journalist in Buenos Aires. Sanford told his staff he was on a much more modest jaunt to the Appalachian Trail, which indicates that maybe he had a shred of shame about the whole business, but in the end, he said, "Well, it's not like I have any presidential ambitions, right?" Last year's luv guv Eliot Spitzer opted for the more budget-friendly train tickets and D.C. hotel accommodations, but those were different times.
Sanford's not the only one who feels the world has turned around enough to allow for gleeful spoiling at taxpayer expense: The Detroit Free Press reported that the trustees of the city pension fund spent $380,000 on travel last year, and then tried to cover it up when the paper sued for records. With 21 trustees, that's an average of $18,095 per person, although one trustee, Ronald Gracia, spent $105,000 of it alone, including an $18,600 trip to Hong Kong.
What Recession / Cruises / Pet Airways / Carnival Cruises / Allen Stanford / Gisele Bundchen / → All Tags
The launch of Pet Airways proves that pet lovers know no downturn in taking care of their furry friends, but even when they leave them behind, they do so in style: A post on the L.A. Times' "California Consumer" blog predicts that based on last year's numbers, Americans will spend more than ever boarding their pets when they're on vacation. That's right, they're still going on vacation for long enough that they can board their pets! While the foreclosed have no homes, pampered pets have two.
So where are all these creature comfort providers going? On Carnival cruises, it seems! The world's biggest cruise company won the second-quarter earnings report by posting a smaller than expected sales loss for the quarter that included the swine-flu scare.
Despite a minor outbreak of H1N1 on one of its South Pacific routes last month, Carnival managed to keep occupancy up by discounting tickets while reaping the advantages of lower fuel costs over last year.
Hey, you know, this economic downturn, we can beat this! All we need is a smile and a $45,000 luxury car for our next road trip! Such must be the thinking behind Chrysler's decision to debut a luxury Grand Jeep Cherokee for its 2011 line, despite being bankrupt two years before its debut.
Built on Mercedes M-Class bones, the 2011 Grand Cherokee is a gas guzzler of the classic model with heated rear seats, auto-dimming headlights and a built-in back-seat tray so your upholstery doesn't get dirty. Since we know gas prices will never go up again, it's an SUV bargain! At least when R. Kelly sings "You remind me of my Jeep" from here on out, you can insist on a particular model.
Chrysler filed for a quickie bankruptcy in April; a proposed merger with Fiat is currently being fought by dealers nationwide who face forced closings under the new agreement.
Now here's a way to really dig it in that you are a have and not a have-not in today's shaky economy: Show off your brand-new house and your brand-new car! Then hope no one decides to egg either when you head home to your new domain in France.
An eco-friendly home builder has started to offer a free electric Tesla Roadster with purchase of a green home in a luxury development outside Paris. The name of the "Welcome to France" company suggests this offer will be attractive to foreigners who want to get the whole expat package in one go, complete with resentment among the French people who live near you or see you zipping around, and it is. They even threw in a golf course and helipad!
Sweet ride! Advertising blog Copyranter just posted a gallery of private-jet advertisements pulled from a recent issue of Forbes. How dare they flaunt their wares in this climate? They don't deserve to advertise.
But seriously, it's funny how the ads attempt to appeal to current concerns about the economy while at the same time selling a product far out of the range of most travelers.
Dassault Falcon stresses the efficiency of its planes; FlexJet urges buyers to make a "true assessment" of the costs involved in traveling commercial (including driving and terminal time), asserting that a private jet does not say to observers, "I'm a well-heeled jet-setter who spends money frivolously." One might think they would have done better not to enter that line into their copy.
And Beechcraft even mentions the most famous recent private-jet-takers, the auto-company CEOs who took the flight of shame to Washington D.C. in December.
But our favorite has got to be Cessna's, which appeals to the ego by inferring that owning a private jet can make you stronger and more threatening to competitors (the peacock defense?).
Everyone knows the recession is causing people all over the world to, if not cut back on their spending, at least cut back on the appearance on spending. (This will later be known as "Sachsing," after Goldman Sachs' decision to move a Las Vegas technology conference to San Francisco to avoid criticism about misusing bailout money -- as opposed to Aiging, which involves spending as much as possible publicly while hoping no one will notice.) But only one news outlet has the cojones to suggest you spend your way out of guilt about traveling when other people can't afford to do so.
If the New York Times is so up on volunteer vacations, why do they tout the most expensive, extravagant ones first in a recent article on them?